Restaurant Manger in Paris: Refined Food With a Social Contribution
Paris' 11th arrondissement is the thumping heart of the city's neo-bistro movement, home to perpetually packed restaurants offering inventive menu dégustations in buzzy settings like Septime, where Beyoncé and Jay-Z were spotted in April, and Bones, which opened in January.
The latest, on an unprepossessing stretch of Rue Keller, is Restaurant Manger, and it's stirring up something a bit different. Executive chef William Pradeleix, who is just 31, worked with the legendary Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in London and with Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the St. Regis in Bora Bora (lucky him), and his fine dining experience shows—the set lunch I had there was the best meal of my week in Paris.
Pradeleix described his cuisine as "traveling food" when I sat down with him the day after my visit; modern French with references to many places he has lived and worked. There's a different lunch theme every day, and mine was "wok et vapeur:" Asian-flavored dishes. I had an exquisite, raw almond soup, with lemongrass and peach purée, served cold, followed by Pradeleix's take on a green curry, with flaky cod and a mango sauce that was just piquant enough.
Still, it's not only the refined food that makes Restaurant Manger stand out. The restaurant is also making a social contribution to the city by training unemployed Parisians with no prior culinary experience—the program is in the same vein as the scheme Jamie Oliver pioneered at his London restaurant, Fifteen, a decade ago.
"I find it more satisfying to see someone without kitchen experience progress than to see a trained commis chef develop," said Pradeleix. "We currently have two apprentices and we're about to employ a third. They're 25 and 27—it's not easy for them to change their lives and to start new jobs, but they're doing really well." It's refreshing to know that it's not only the bobo residents of the on-the-up 11th arrondissement who are benefiting from the arrival of Restaurant Manger.
More from Condé Nast Traveler: